Saturday, February 25, 2012
Leftovers from the combine
By Mike Reiss
INDIANAPOLIS -- A few leftovers from the NFL combine that caught the eye:
1. Pete Carroll on how Kevin Faulk bucked the odds. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked to take a trip down memory lane on his time with the Patriots, specifically with his memories of running back Kevin Faulk, who joined the team as a second-round pick in Carroll's final year as coach (1999). Carroll never would have projected that Faulk, who might be retiring, would go on to play 13 seasons. "I probably underestimated the chip on his shoulder, to make him the great competitor that he is," Carroll said of a career that he described as "fantastic." Carroll added: "From the start of it, he kind of bucked the odds. He just didn't look like the guy that he wound up being. He overcame to prove that and showed that he has great staying power -- a great competitor."
2. Former Patriots TE Benjamin Watson makes impression on top prospect. Georgia tight end Orson Charles, who is considered one of the top players in the draft at the position, called former Patriots tight end and current Cleveland Brown Benjamin Watson his mentor. Like Charles, Watson attended Georgia. "People like that, you think they'd turn off their phone or reject you, but he watches us and a lot of teams from Georgia. He's just a great guy," he said. Charles added that Rob Gronkowski's impressive opening to his NFL career sparked his own decision to declare early for the draft, while Louisiana Lafeyette tight end Ladarius Green said, "I feel like it's a great time for tight ends to come out. They are doing so well right now in the NFL, it's just a great time to be a tight end right now."
3. Jeff Fuller, part of "big" WR class, won't work out. One of the things that several personnel men have said at the combine is that this draft is filled with big receivers, which seems like good news for the Patriots if their quest for more of a presence outside the numbers. Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller (6-4, 220) is part of that group and scouts have circled March 25 as a key day for him, as that is when he will hold a personal Pro Day. Fuller, who was highly touted at this time last year but didn't build on that in his final season, isn't working out at the combine after sustaining a stress fracture in his foot at the Senior Bowl. Had he entered the draft last year, he likely would have been generating more buzz than this year, which sets him up as a potentially undervalued asset in the early to mid rounds.